Are you dreaming of a wedding day that aligns with your values of mindfulness and environmental consciousness? Wedding planning can be such a fun and creative process, but, with the Earth’s well-being in mind, it can also be a powerful opportunity to prioritize sustainability.
I am deeply passionate about sustainability and our planet, and it truly excites me when I get to photograph a wedding celebration that aligns with these values. It’s more than just taking breathtaking photos; it’s about celebrating your love in harmony with the environment.
Weddings, while joyous occasions, can also generate a substantial carbon footprint. Shockingly, the average wedding leaves behind over 400 pounds of waste and contributes to more than 60 tons of CO2 emissions. It’s time to change that narrative.
And, if you want to see how different wedding planning decisions impact the environment, check out this Wedding Footprint Calculator from Less Stuff, More Meaning to see firsthand.
While weddings encompass various elements that impact the environment, the most significant environmental factors are often guest count, air travel, meat consumption, and imported flowers. If you’re considering a sustainable wedding celebration, let’s explore some options for planning a big day that treads lightly on the Earth while leaving a lasting memory.
When it comes to selecting the perfect gem for your engagement or wedding ring, it’s essential to be aware of the options that align with your eco-conscious values. While the term “conflict-free” is a significant step in the right direction, it doesn’t guarantee that a diamond or gemstone was ethically sourced.
Consider exploring lab-grown stones, such as Moissanite. These gems are cultivated in a controlled lab environment, mimicking the brilliance of real diamonds but without the ethical concerns associated with traditional diamond mining.
For a more personal touch, consider family heirlooms. These treasures often carry sentimental value and can be repurposed into a new and unique piece of jewelry. Whether it’s your grandmother’s vintage diamond or your mother’s sapphire, incorporating a family gem or even the whole ring, not only reduces the environmental impact but also adds a thoughtful layer of sentimental significance.
Estate sales are another exciting option. You can discover exquisite vintage rings and gems that have their own stories to tell. By giving new life to these timeless pieces, you’re not only making a sustainable choice but also embracing the rich history and character of your jewelry.
In your hunt for the perfect gem, remember that lab-grown stones, heirloom gemstones, and vintage finds all serve as fantastic options for the eco-conscious gem shopper.
In today’s digital age, embracing paperless E-vites can significantly simplify your wedding planning. These digital and eco-friendly invitations streamline RSVPs and make it easy to respond to questions about your big day.
However, if you aren’t ready to part with paper invitations entirely, consider choosing one standout piece for your wedding day. Opt for recycled paper options or seek out companies that are committed to sustainability.
For instance, Paper Culture provides 100% post-recycled paper invites and sweetens the deal by planting a tree in your honor with every purchase. It’s a small change that can make a big difference for both your wedding and the environment.
One easily overlooked but environmentally impactful wedding planning decision is your floral arrangements. Often, flowers are forced to bloom out of season or are imported from countries with more favorable growing climates, requiring substantial energy inputs.
Consider taking a more eco-conscious approach by sourcing local and seasonal florals. This choice not only supports nearby local growers but also reduces the carbon footprint associated with long-distance refrigerated shipping.
Another smart move is to opt for reusable floral arrangements that serve multiple functions. For example, aisle markers can double as table centerpieces or a ceremony backdrop can transform into a photo booth backdrop. For extra goodwill from Mama Earth, steer clear of floral foam; it contains toxic components and doesn’t fully degrade, breaking down into microplastics.
When the wedding celebration ends, explore fun and thoughtful ways to repurpose your florals. Donating them to a nursing home or hospital can bring smiles to others’ faces. Alternatively, choose potted plants that can be taken home and planted or used to decorate your own space, ensuring your wedding blooms continue to thrive for years to come.
While grand exits are undeniably fun, they can also pose significant environmental challenges. Oftentimes, they involve elements like open flames, confetti, or the tossing of non-native florals, all of which can have detrimental effects on the environment.
For a more sustainable wedding day, consider ending your night with a private last dance. If you still want your guests to see you off, opt for eco-friendly bubbles as a whimsical and environmentally conscious alternative. This choice ensures your grand exit is not only memorable but also eco-friendly.
Weddings often involve a plethora of single-use items, from plastic utensils to disposable decorations. To make your celebration more eco-friendly, explore alternative options. For instance, rather than resorting to disposable tableware, consider choosing thrifted or rental alternatives. Not only will this reduce environmental impact, but it can also infuse a unique touch into your wedding decor.
Additionally, you may want to consider skipping traditional wedding favors. While these tokens of appreciation are sweet, they often end up forgotten or discarded. Instead, if you’re eager to give out wedding favors, consider something consumable, such as an edible treat neatly packaged in a reusable or compostable container. This way, you not only express your gratitude, but also provide your guests with some late-night munchies.
When it comes to the guest list and transportation, making mindful choices can significantly reduce your wedding’s environmental footprint. Consider keeping your guest count relatively small, especially if guests have to travel long distances to attend. Not only do micro weddings offer an opportunity to spend more time with each loved one, but they also significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your big day.
Encourage guests to carpool if possible, and consider arranging shuttle transportation if your wedding involves multiple locations. Not only will this help keep your party rocking from location to location, but these options also work wonders in shrinking your wedding’s carbon footprint.
Although wedding attire often holds special significance, these cherished garments are, unfortunately, typically only worn once. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun and mindful options to consider. Buying a secondhand wedding gown is one way to reduce your environmental footprint. Places like The Altar Bridal in Littleton sell gorgeous secondhand gowns, offering a chance to don a beautiful dress while giving it a second life.
Alternatively, renting your wedding attire can be another sustainable and stylish option. Websites like Traveling Gowns, Happily Ever Borrowed, and Rent the Runway offer a range of bridal wear for rent. They not only save you money but also reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing something new. You can also opt for sustainability-focused brands like Reformation’s bridal collection.
And don’t forget about your wedding party! Having them wear pre-owned or rented outfits is another fantastic way to minimize your overall carbon footprint while staying true to your authentic style.
When it comes to wedding catering, sustainability can play a flavorful role. For starters, choose a caterer or private chef who prioritizes locally sourced, organic ingredients for your menu. Not only does this support local farmers, but it also reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting food long distances. Along those same lines, prioritizing a seasonal menu not only guarantees the best flavors but also eliminates reliance on energy-intensive greenhouse farming.
And yes, I’m going to suggest it – consider including more vegetarian and vegan options with smaller servings of animal protein. Plant-based meals tend to be kinder to the environment, as they require fewer resources than meat-heavy dishes.
To further reduce waste and environmental impact, plan your food quantities based on your RSVPs to minimize leftovers. Similarly, offering plated dishes instead of a buffet reduces food waste while providing an elevated dining experience.
Selecting an eco-conscious venue and collaborating with sustainability-minded vendors can make hosting a green wedding a breeze. Seek out venues that take pride in minimizing their carbon footprint and employ sound recycling and composting practices. Venues like River Bend set an inspiring example in this realm.
River Bend, where I celebrated my own microwedding, wholeheartedly embraces sustainability. During my time there, I observed their firm commitment to eco-friendly practices. They exclusively permit the use of compostable single-use items and even operate their own flower farm, Plume and Furrow, at their sister venue, Lyons Farmette.
As you start your wedding planning journey, remember that every small step you take towards sustainability makes a significant difference. While it might take planting 2,722 trees to offset the average wedding’s carbon footprint, every one of your efforts counts.
You can even consider the idea of ‘offsetting the carbon footprint’ by donating to a nonprofit that specializes in tree planting or CO2 emission reduction projects. Alternatively, for the environmentally passionate couples, you could include an eco-focused non-profit on your wedding registry.
Here are a few environmentally-focused nonprofits that I personally love:
Remember, your wedding day should be a reflection of you and your values. By making mindful choices and embracing sustainability, you’re not only creating beautiful memories but also doing so in a way that aligns with your beliefs and contributes to a more environmentally conscious future. While some of these ideas may not be the right fit for your celebration, choosing to adopt even a few can allow you to tie your love story into the story of a greener world.